Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Review: The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

Book Description "A lonely wedding chapel built as a tribute to lost love just might hold the long-awaited secret to hope and reconciliation.

 For sixty years, the wedding chapel has stood silent and empty. Retired football hall-of-famer Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook built the chapel by hand, stone by stone, for his beautiful and beloved Collette Greer, whom he lost so many years ago. The chapel is a sanctuary for his memories, a monument to true love, and a testament to his survival of the deepest pain and loss.

 Photographer Taylor Branson left her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee to make a new life for herself in New York. Taylor had lots to run away from, not least of all a family history of broken promises and broken dreams. Love catches Taylor off guard when she falls for Jack Forester, a successful advertising executive, and their whirlwind romance leads to an elopement – and then to second guesses. Jack, in spite of his very real love for Taylor, is battling his own demons and struggles to show her his true self and the depths of his love for her.

 When Taylor takes a photography assignment in Heart’s Bend, she is thrown back into her own past and encounters family secrets buried deep beneath the sands of time. And when Taylor and Coach’s journeys collide, they each rediscover the heartbeat of their own dreams as they learn that the love they long to hold is well worth waiting for."

The first book that I ever read by Rachel Hauck was The Wedding Dress (find my review here.) I cannot tell you how much I loved that book.  I have read it many times and it is still one of my favorite books ever!  If you have never read it, you should!  After that I have read many other books by Ms. Hauck and when I have an opportunity to review one of her books, I jump on it.  I could not wait for The Wedding Chapel to come up for review and when it arrived, I dove right in.  When I went to bed that night I had gotten 3/4 of the way through it and my husband mentioned that he thought I had just gotten it that day.  Some people just don't understand the reading frenzy that happens when you get a wonderful new book!

The Wedding Chapel focuses on four main characters: new married Taylor and Jack, Jimmy "Coach" Westbrook, and Colette Greer.  The story also shifts between the present time (2015) and the past (1948-1951.)  The story is shown through the eyes of the different characters with each chapter being labeled with that character's name.  When they story shifts back to the past that is labeled as well making the transitions easy for the reader to understand.  The story is very complex but easy to follow.  The characters are all very well developed and each one goes on a journey throughout the story.  It is a great story of love, forgiveness, and second chances.  It also is a story about trust and fighting for the things that are important to you in life.  One of the other major things the reader learns while taking this journey is about the problems that can come from making false assumptions and not being honest with the people that matter most in life even if that involves taking a risk.

I loved it!  I loved the story and the characters.  I loved the transition from past to present.  The author does an amazing job of making the reader feel like they are experiencing the story.  I loved the ending and the way everything came altogether.  I am not going to tell you anymore expect go and read it!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Schoolhouse Review Crew 2015 Blue Ribbon Awards

2015 Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards
At the end of every Crew year, the Schoolhouse Review Crew votes for their favorite products in a variety of categories.  We had 61 different vendor slots this year (some vendors had more than one slot.) I wrote 37 reviews this year for the Schoolhouse Review Crew bringing my total since 2010 to 270 reviews.  These are my choices out of the products that I used an reviewed.  I did not vote in every category either because I did not review anything in that category or because I truly did not have one that I could say was a favorite.
Favorite Reading Curriculum- First Start Reading
Favorite Writing Curriculum-IEW SWI A
Favorite Vocabulary Curriculum
Favorite Spelling Curriculum-IEW Phonetic Zoo
Favorite Grammar Curriculum-IEW Fix It Grammar
Favorite Penmanship Curriculum- Cursive Logic
Favorite Literature Curriculum- Progeny Press

Favorite History Curriculum- Home School in the Woods
Favorite History Supplement- Heirloom Audio With Lee in Virginia
Favorite Science Curriculum
Favorite Science Supplement- Ann McCallum Eat Your Science Homework
Favorite Math Curriculum
Favorite Math Supplement

Favorite Christian Education Curriculum- Grapevine Studies
Favorite Christian Education Supplement- YWAM Publishing
Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum- Middlebury Interactive Languages
Favorite Fine Arts Product- ARTistic Pursuits
Favorite Elective Curriculum
Favorite Audio Drama- Heirloom Audio With Lee in Virginia
Favorite Video- FishFlix John Wesley

Favorite Preschool Product-Alpha Omega Publications
Favorite Elementary Product - Home School in the Woods
Favorite Middle School Product- 
Favorite High School Product
Favorite College Prep
Favorite Parent Product- IEW TWSS
Favorite Planning Product

Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed
Best Online Product
Best E Product- Home School in the Woods
Just For Fun-USAOpoly
Kid's Choice-Mine voted for USAOpoly, Home School in the Woods, and YWAM Publishing
Teen's Choice- Cursive Logic
All Around Crew Favorite- IEW

And The Blue Ribbon Award Winners Are:

Favorite Reading Curriculum: Reading Kingdom
Favorite Writing Curriculum: Institute for Excellence in Writing
Favorite Vocabulary Program: Dynamic Literacy
Favorite Penmanship Program: CursiveLogic 
Favorite Literature Curriculum: Progeny Press

Favorite History Curriculum: Home School in the Woods 
Favorite History Supplement: Heirloom Audio Productions: In Freedom's Cause 
Favorite Science Curriculum: Visual Learning Systems 
Favorite Science Supplement: Ann McCallum Books: Eat Your Science Homework 
Favorite Math Curriculum: CTC Math 
Favorite Math Supplement: SimplyFun

Favorite Christian Education Curriculum: Grapevine Studies 
Favorite Christian Education Supplement: Brinkman Adventures 
Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum: Middlebury Interactive Language 
Favorite Fine Arts Product: Maestro Classics 
Favorite Elective Curriculum: Apologia Educational Ministries: Field Trip Journal 
Favorite Audio Drama: Brinkman Adventures 
Favorite Video: FishFlix.com

Favorite Preschool Product: La La Logic 
Favorite Elementary Product: Star Toaster 
Favorite Middle School Product: The Critical Thinking Co 
Favorite High School Product: Writing with Sharon Watson 
Favorite College or College-Prep Product: Freedom Project Education 

Favorite Parent Product: Koru Naturals 
Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed: Homeschool Planet 
Best Online Resource: Super Teacher Worksheets 
Best e-Product: Home School in the Woods 
Just for Fun: USAopoly
Kids' Choice: La La Logic 
Teens' Choice: YWAM Publishing 
All Around Crew Favorite: Institute for Excellence in Writing

Congrats to all the winners!!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 11

Another week completed!  So many people are talking about Christmas and I have not even wrapped my head around the fact that it is November!  The year is going by very quickly!

So here it is November and our temps are starting to cool down a little.  We had to break down and turn the heat on and I have had to tell the children more than once to trade their shorts for pants when they are going outside. Thursday the children were outside for recess and I headed out to join them for a little bit. I try to get out there for a little while every day because mama needs some fresh air and sunshine too.  I was walking down the hill where the children were riding bikes back towards the house when I felt a really sharp stinging on top of my collar bone.  It was a yellow jacket and he stung the daylights out of me!  Nick pulled the stinger out for me.  I had not been stung by anything (besides fire ants)since I was a teenager and reacted to a red wasp sting.  Thankfully I didn't have an allergic reaction but it really hurt.  Friday it was so sore that it hurt all the way up into my neck and I had a terrible headache.  Even today it still hurts.  Who knew all that could come from a little bee sting?

I was poorly prepared for Veterans Day.  I need to do better with that next year. We did talk about what Veterans Day was and why we celebrate it.  I also showed the children pictures of my dad in uniform who served in the army in Viet Nam and also my brother who was in the army as well.  I think they at least got the general idea and some knowledge of the importance of those who serve our country.

This week I wrote my last Schoolhouse Crew Review for the 2014/2015 school year.  I have a few book reviews and a homeschool review I am working on but other than those I will be on a review break.

Lily snuggling with Ana one morning this week

Week 11 in Our Homeschool

P.E.: We did lessons 43-46 in Family Time Fitness.

Bible: We completed Lesson 6 of Grapevine Studies Old Testament One.

Read Aloud: We read chapters 5-8 in God's Secret Agent.

History: Nick and Alex finished lessons 25,26, and 27 in The Mystery of History Vol IV on The Fall of the Alamo and the Texas War of Independence, David Livingstone and the Exploration of Africa, and Karl Marx and the Communist Manifesto.  The boys mapped David Livingstone's expeditions and completed the worksheets for each lesson.  We also made our memory cards and added figures to the timeline.

Science: We finished the chapter 5 on nutrition in Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology.

My Father's World Adventures: We finished reading The Courage of Sarah Noble.  In history we read about Ben Franklin.  There was only one science lesson this week and it was a one page reading about what the earth is made of.

Math: Lesson 10 of Math U See Alpha, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Algebra 1.

Grammar/Lit/Writing/Handwriting: Anthony and Christian and I worked together on a story sequence chart for the story of The Ant and the Grasshopper and rewrote the story.  We completed Lesson 15 of Fix It! Grammar 1 and 2. Nick is still working on War of the Worlds.  Alex I forgot to give him anything for writing or literature.

Anthony and Christian's floor plan activity for AAR Level 3

Reading/Spelling: Alex completed lesson 9 of Phonetic Zoo. Anthony and Christian completed the word list for step 5 in AAS Level 2.  In AAR Level 3 they finished lesson 5. Lily completed lessons 23,24,25,and 26 in AAR Level One.

Horizon's Preschool: Emmie has finished through lesson 52 in Horizon's Preschool.

A friend of mine had just come back from a mission trip to Mexico and brought some candy back for the children.  The enjoyed trying out the Mexican Candy.

Other Activities This Week

Monday the girls had gymnastics.  They have been working on a round off back handspring for awhile.  Lily has been practicing a lot.  Tuesday morning she called me out to the trampoline to show me she could do it.  She was so proud!

Wednesday we had Kid's Club. We had a child get sick and while the usual teacher for 1 and 2nd grade took care of that, I filled in for that class.  Our story was the wall of Jericho coming down and Rehab hiding the spies.  The activity was to make a snack of Rehab's house and the red rope.

Friday I had the children do some drawings in their Nature Journals.

We also had archery.

And our co-op.

So we used our Book It Coupons and picked up some pizza for supper.

Saturday we had nothing special planned.  Daddy was out deer hunting.  The girls asked if we could make playdough.

And I worked on a couple of pillow case dresses to put in the Operation Christmas Child boxes. Emmie tried it on for me.

I hope you had a great week in your homeschool!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

November Grandview Co-op

Yesterday was our monthly co-op at Rick Evans Grandview Prairie.  We are continuing our series on the Caddo Indians.  In September we learned about Indian toys and made corn husk dolls.  In October we learned about tools and did a weaving project, ground corn, and made bows and arrows. This month we talked about clothing and made moccasins.

We had a small group this month with only 9 children participating.

First they had to make the pattern by tracing their foot, adding a one inch seam allowance around it, making a boot shape, and cutting it out.

Next we had to cut out the felt.  We did that for the children.  They could choose between red, brown, black, or gray and surprisingly almost everyone wanted red.

Then we had to thread the needles and ties the knots.  The children sewed the areas from halfway down the boot to the bottom and around the toe.

And thats how far we were able to get in almost and hour and a half.  So supplies were sent home to finish up.  We had to turn the moccasin inside out and sew around the flap.  This finished the moccasin.  Then we had leather strips to string a few beads on to tie around the ankle and hold the moccasin on.

The children really liked these moccasins!  My three youngest finished up wore last night and had to put them on right away.  They had them on again this morning.  Tonight we will finish up Anthony and Alex's.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Grapevine Studies

Grapevine Studies Review
One of the ways we simplify homeschooling in our house is to do as many subjects together as we can.  We start our day with a Bible lesson.  It can be very challenging to find a study that I can use with a wide variety of ages.  I was thankful to have an opportunity to review the following from Grapevine Studies:

Old Testament 1: Level 1 Creation to Jacob and Old Testament 1: Traceable
Old Testament 1: Level 2 Creation to Jacob
Old Testament 1: Level 3 Creation to Jacob
Old Testament 1: Level 4 Creation to Jacob
Grapevine Studies Review
Grapevine Studies teaches God's Word by hearing the Bible, stick figuring through the Bible, answering questions, and memorizing Scripture.  As the students get older lessons also include basic Bible geography and using Bible tools such as a concordance, topical Bible, and Bible dictionary. The studies can be used in a home, co-op, or church setting.  A variety of ages can study the same topic with the more advances Bible verses, questions, and using Bible tools making the study more challenging for the older students.
Grapevine Studies Review
Old Testament 1 covers:

Adam and Eve
The Fall
Noah and the Fall
Tower of Babel

Each lesson starts with a timeline review page.  Then there are lesson pages with 2 drawings per page for the traceable and Level One and 4 drawings per age for levels 2 and up.  Next there is a student drawing page that allows students to draw their favorite part of the lesson and write their memory verse.  Review questions are included.  Level 4 also has a quest page with exercises using the concordance, dictionary, and topical Bible.

The Teacher's Guide gives instructions to the teacher.  Level 1 and 2 are combined and levels 3 and 4 are combined.  Lesson goals and key points are listed for each lesson along with the Bible verses to be read, drawing instructions, pictures of all of the stick drawing, and answers to the review questions.

In addition to the study and the Bible tools for level 4, your student will need crayons or colored pencils to draw and color with, and index cards to make character and event cards.  Teachers will need a dry erase board and markers.

More Information About the Levels
How to Choose? Where to Start?

In my house, I have children who range in age from 4-13.  We had been doing a study of the Old Testament and it wasn't working as well as I wanted it to, so that is why I chose The Old Testament 1 from Grapevine Studies.  I have my 4-6 year olds using the Traceable, my 8 year old using Level 1, my 10 year old using Level 2, my 11 year old using Level 3, and my 13 year old using Level 4.
Level 3 Timeline Review

We received downloadable PDF's which have a family license.  This means that you can make as many copies as you need for all the members of your family!  That for me is a huge plus because I have multiple children using the different levels.  Another huge plus is that we all can work on the study together. The pages are in black and white making them fairly cheap to print.  I print one lesson a week for each of the children and we use it for our morning Bible time 4 days a week.  The older boys use colored pencils and the younger children use crayons.  I have a small dry erase board that I draw the figures on for them.
Level 4 Lesson Pages

I really like the stick figuring part.  The drawings are easy enough for even me to do (which is saying a lot!)  The children really like drawing them and it does help them remember what we talked about. The traceables are wonderful!  The pictures are lightly drawn for them and all they have to do is trace.  This makes it so much easier to include the little ones in our Bible time. They love tracing the pictures!
Traceable Lesson Page
Level 2 Lesson Page

The teacher's guide is easy to follow along with. It tells you what verses to read and shows good drawings for you to follow.  There is constant review built into the lessons.  A timeline review starts each lesson, Bible verses are reviewed, and comprehension questions are gone over.  
Level 4 Quest Page

The only thing that has been a bit of a challenge is the quest pages in Level 4.  The answers for these are not in the teacher's guide due to copyright restrictions.  The page numbers that the answers can be found on in their suggested materials are listed.  But we have a different concordance, topical Bible, and Bible dictionary and are not always able to find the answers we have needed.  
Level One Student Drawing Page

We have been pleased with Grapevine Studies and are planing on continuing on with this study.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say stop by the Crew Blog!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Ann McCallum Books

My children love science and they love to cook.  We were excited to have an opportunity to use and review Eat Your Science Homework from Ann McCallum Books.

Ann McCallum is a teacher who has taught in many different locations, including a one room school house in British Columbia, Canada.  Now living in Maryland with her husband and two children, she has written several fun and educational children's books.  Her first book, The Secret Life of Math won ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award. Since then she has written several more including: Eat Your U.S. History Homework, Eat Your Science Homework, Eat Your Math Homework, Rabbit, Rabbits Everywhere: A Fibonacci Tale, and Beanstalk: The Measure of a Giant.
Eat Your Science Homework is a 47 page paperback book.  It is also available as a hard cover book. The book starts with a description and cooking safety tips.  Next you will find 6 different edible science projects.  Each section starts with a one page science topic for the student to read.  Then it has the recipe to follow including prep time, cooking time, and necessary equipment.  The next page lists the step by step method.  The next page contains further information on the topic and another experiment idea.  Then there is a Science Review section going over the topics that were covered and a glossary defining different scientific terms that were found throughout the lessons.

Recipes in this book include:
Atomic Popcorn Balls
Density Dressing and Veggie Sticks
Invisible Ink Snack Pockets
Loop, Whorl, and Arch Cookies
Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna
Black Hole Swallow-Ups

You can purchase Eat Your Science Homework for $7.95 for the paperback or $16.95 for the hard cover and take a peek inside the book here.

We don't do school on Fridays.  Fridays are days for us to participate in some fun outside activities and run errands.  On Friday mornings, we try to do some fun, educational activities.  Eat Your Science Homework has fit into that slot perfectly.  The first recipe we made was Loop, Whorl, and Arch cookies.  I read the lesson page, recipe, and method aloud to the children and then we got to work.  They had a great time making these cookies and learned a bit of science along the way!

We also made the Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna.

Invisible Ink Snack Pockets are next up on my list.

This is a fun little book and a great way to teach science concepts. It is written in a very interesting, conversational way and I think hands on activities always make lessons more memorable.  The illustrations are adorable.  The instructions are written clearly in easy to follow steps.  How much your child is going to be able to do on their own will depend on their age.  I was working with children who were 10 and under so I had to be there to walk them through, but I think probably 12 and up could do these activities independently. 

We did have an issue with the dough for the cookies we made. It was really dry.  I don't know if something was off with the recipe or if any of my helpers slipped in some extra flour, but I did have to add some things to get it to turn into a workable dough.  

I would love an opportunity to use the other books in this series.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 10

My children ended up with a morning off this week.  Monday night I had a bit of a sore throat and then woke up Tuesday with laryngitis.  I could barely talk at all.  I do a lot of reading in our morning school work, so we just skipped it.  We needed groceries badly so instead of morning school work we headed to Walmart and spent a small fortune.  We used our first Pizza Hut Book It coupons and grabbed some pizza on our way home.  We did stumble through our afternoon school work, they just had to listen to my whispering.  Tuesday night Christian had a sore throat and started running a fever so he ended up with a day off Wednesday, although he did listen in when I was reading aloud.

Week 10 In Our Homeschool

P.E.: We did lessons 40-42 in Family Time Fitness.

Bible: We finished lesson 5 of Grapevine Old Testament One.

Read Aloud: We started reading Brother Andrew God's Secret Agent from YWAM Christian Heroes Then and Now series.

History: Nick and Alex completed Lessons 22,23, and 24 of The Mystery of History Vol IV on Brazil, The Trail of Tears, and George Muller.  The boys thought we could skip the chapter on George Muller since we just finished a book about him, but I read it anyway.  It never hurts to review :).  We added the figures to our timeline, completed the worksheets, and did the mapping assignment.

Science: We started reading Chapter 5 in Exploring Creation With Anatomy and Physiology on Nutrition.

My Father's World Adventures: We are continued in our reading of  The Courage of Sarah Noble.  In History we learned about the Great Lakes and the settlement at Detroit.  For science we were supposed to make playdough and bread.  But we have made playdough a million times and just did bread the week before so we skipped those activities.

Math: Lesson 9 of Math U See Alpha, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Algebra 1 completed.

Grammar/Literature/Writing/Handwriting: For our PAL writing lesson Anthony and Christian completed the story sequence chart for the Ant and the Chrysalis.  They worked on daily copywork from their PenTime copybooks and I finally ordered one for Lily.  In grammar we completed lesson 14 of Fix It! 1 and 2.  Alex finally finished the Progeny Press guide for Stone Fox and I am not sure what he is doing next.  Nick is working on reading War of the Worlds.

Spelling/Reading: Alex completed Lesson 8 of the Phonetic Zoo.  Christian and Anthony complete the word list for step 4 of AAS.  In AAR Level 3 they finished lessons 2,3, and 4.  Lily completed lessons 18,19,20,21, and 22 in AAR Level One.  She finished the first volume of the readers, Run Bug Run and has started reading those stories to Emmie.

Horizon's Preschool: Emmie has completed up to lesson 42 in Horizon's Preschool.  She actually asked for some worksheets to do yesterday when it was raining.  School on Saturday? Why not!

Other Activities This Week:

Monday the girls had gymnastics.

Wednesday Christian could not go to Kids Club because he was not feeling well.  Since he couldn't go, I couldn't go either.  Lily, Emmie, Nick and Alex wanted to go, so we drove them into town and their daddy picked them up and brought them home.  I had an extra hour or so that I don't usually have so I cleaned out the downstairs closet.  Exciting I know!!

Friday we met some friends at the park.  It was so nice to be able to go and sit and chat with my friend! We used to go every Friday but have not been able to do that for awhile.

After that we had archery.

This little frog provided a lot of entertainment at archery.

And we stopped at Sonic for Happy Hour Slushies.

This weekend was the youth hunt.  Art took Alex out but he did not get a deer.

Here he was the first time he ever went hunting.

He's grown a bit since then!!!

Christian found this gecko one day this week and they had some fun observing him before we let him go.

Miss Emmie couldn't decide whether to sleep in her bed or Lily's one night (they usually sleep in the same bed and take turns whose bed they sleep in) and that silly girl fell asleep on the floor!

I hope you had a great week in your homeschool!